Publication Date


Document Type



28 April, 1921

Dearest Dada:

You know dreams are queer things,
are they not? I dreamt so vividly of you last
night that I am [compelled] to write you today.
I often dream of you and the other kids at
college, and curiously enough, my dreams are
always of college days, as though I were still
in college and had not graduated. If you
remember, you once wrote me that last summer
you dreamt of my being in great physical
pain and was calling to you; but somehow
unable to reach you? Remember? Well,
from the date of that letter, I calculated
the day when you had that dream, which
was about the time I was being operated
upon for my tonsils, and suffered so
miserably. As I was going under the
ether, I remembered thinking and wishing
you were near. Mental telepathy, n'est

But last night I dreamt, I went into
your room on the third floor, and found
you in bed, and I said to you, "Dada, the
crowd is too slow for words. Here we are in
our senior year, and we have not
bummed around Boston for ages. Let us [page break]
go into town this Saturday and blow".

Then I awoke, and felt sad, exceeding-
ly sad. To think that four years ago
we were seniors, -- never to be any
more. And what have I accomplished
since then? I with all my dreams and
visions of a future.-- which have burned
with forlorn realities. Years which have
slipped so stealthily past that I hardly realize
that they have gone, beyond recall, beyond

I have often thought of the years since
college. What have I to show for them? If
I had gone straight into Medical School, I
might now be a full-fledged M.D.
I think you are about the only one among
my friends and family that I can
face to review my thoughts, and to
confess that the last four years have
been absolutely barren of results so far
as accomplishing any worth while result
is concerned. Of course, there are millions
and millions of excuses which I might
put up as valid reasons why I have
not accomplished anything, for instance,
that it took twice to become adjusted[page break]
to conditions, my father's poor health, etc.
But when viewed under the cold place
of justice sans mercy, the truth is
this: --- If I really had something
in me, I could have overcome all
the obstacles, swept them aside, left
the comfortable homeside, and gone
into the interiors and done some work
"on my own", away from people who
know my family, -- and particularly
away from Shanghai where because of
my family, anything I choose to do
in the way of Social Service has the
approval of the public, but where it
is impossible to judge of results
merely as results apart from per-
sonal achievement.

This letter is more or less -- a--
thinking aloud, -- a sort of introspection.
But I have introspected so much lately
that I feel I must write you. And
I want you to be perfectly honest
and weigh carefully everything I
say, and tell me what the result
of your judgement is.

I am going first of all to tell [page break]
you exactly how I stand.

During the past four years.-- the
first year I was really miserably ill, and
so that year is really and honestly to
be discounted. The beginning of the second
year, with my father recently dead,
we moved, and I plunged into house-
keeping. Since then I have gained a
fair knowledge of Chinese, -- nothing
wonderful or even passable; but still
I really made quite some progress and
gotten a good foundation. Socially
speaking, I figured provincially in
all sorts of activities, promoted
fairs, concerts, etc. for benefit funds,
organized various clubs, associations etc.
became directors to several charitable
institutions. In other words, I am
well and favorably known as being
public-spirited and with some clause
to executive ability. I am saying this
not in a vain glorious spirit but just
trying to show you where I stand.
I am also known as being "intellectual
and "brainy", rather proud but pleasant.
In other words, I feel myself above the [page break]
average "return student", but is not
offensively snobbish, -- a good
sport but somewhat apart from the
"common herd" because of my family's
position, and because of the fact that
I dress very well, and in foreign
clothes, ride around in a motor,
and does not have to teach to get my

Now this is my present situation and
only this much have I accomplished.
Of course people gab about my "good"
influence in Society, in that I am
showing what Chinese girls ought
to do for the public etc: but between
you and me, I think that is slosh,
pure and simple.

Against what I have done, I am
putting down what I might have done.
I might have gone somewhere away
from home and taught. But what
would I have gained or accomplished then?
Looking all around me, and reviewing
the lives of these girls who have done so,
I cannot see that they have accomplish-
ed anything worth-while or that they [page break]
are any better satisfied or had gained
something more precious from life. They
seem cramped, either indifferent,
lackadaisical or bitter. Their lives seem
so empty, -- empty. What then could
I have done or could do now to
get that vibrant joy of life, and of

Oh, Dada, what is the matter with
me? I have had moments when I felt
that the only way to solve my problems
is by a life of self-abnegation,--
to become either a Catholic nun, to
renounce all the "self" of my personality
and to live a life of impersonal self-

At moments too, I have had the
temptation of getting married, and be
done with the whole thing, and then
just drift along, and keep my self from
thinking. But there again comes the
difficulty, -- during my four years
at home, I have learned to know
with [], and so when it comes to
actually thinking one of them, I hesitate.
You know, of course, that no man[page break]
really view life as we women do. If they
have not already had liaisons, they
will eventually have them. I have
seen so many instances of this;--
men whom I thought were absolutely
reliable. This is a terrible confession
to make, I know. Of course I
acknowledge that there are some
really good men, for instance men
like my brother; but even he is too
young for me to predict what
he will be ten years from
now. At any rate, the continual
dread over being the average married woman
is intolerable for me to even con-
template. Especially in this time
in China, -- where the standard
of morality is so different from
that of America. Or perhaps,
all Orientals are more open in
such matters.

Oh, dada, dada, how I miss
you! How I wish you were here.
Three months ago, just before I left
Shanghai, I had hoped that a
change of climate, a change of [page break]
scenery would pull me out of myself;
but in spite of the very gay life
I have had here, I cannot seem
to get away from myself. And the
worst is, -- I cannot talk to
even my sister about how or what
I feel, for as I told you, you
are the only one I can "think
aloud" to. Write me to Shanghai,
I have not the heart to tell you
of all the things I have done,
seen etc. Maybe later, I shall
do so.


P.S. I have not written to you for several
moths because I have been
chocked full of what I want to
day and yet could not find
an outlet in expression.